Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Status of Healthcare

There is a real problem blooming in what we call our health care system. No, I am not referring to the widely debated legislation passed a few weeks ago, but rather a problem that is frightening to those of us who are involved in the delivery of health care. The problem is that as much as individuals like to attack medicine along with its shortcomings and dangers, the fact is that medical practice is becoming more effective every year. Now, the question may arise; how is that a problem? If drugs are becoming that much more effective and that less harmful, isn’t that a good thing? It is safer today than it was 10 or 15 years ago to have heart bypass surgery, something that today is considered routine, isn’t that a good thing? If traditional medicine is able to develop new drugs that can relieve people’s ills for longer and longer periods of time, then aren’t we making progress? When all we are doing is relieving certain symptoms and allowing individuals to feel fine and not making them healthier, are we really making a difference? To feel more comfortable until you die may be a benefit to some but not for the many who are still years from their deaths. Let’s not mistake comfortable deaths with the full expression of health. If we have virtually wiped out smallpox and developed a new vaccine for chicken pox but AIDS is growing every year, have we really made any progress? A recent study has shown that if cancer was completely eliminated today (which is highly unlikely in as much as the incidence of the disease is increasing), the average life span would only be increased by less than 1.5 years.

Here is the danger--medical advances may lull us into believing either that we are healthier or that being healthy is not important as long as we are disease-free. Yet, ridding the world of a disease like cancer will only increase the lifespan at best by 1.5 years and perhaps not that much if other diseases take its place as the killers. Medicine’s progress is like the individual who cannot seem to live within a budget and is constantly using his credit card until it is “maxed out.” Then the credit card company tells him not to worry because his limit has been increased by $2,000. That is the worst thing that could happen to him. It will treat the symptom for a while longer, delaying the ultimate which will be worse; he will have $2,000 more debt! But saddest of all, it will prevent him from addressing the real problem. His lifestyle and budget need to be altered so he can live without running to an ATM every day.

Correspondingly, the greatest danger of medicine is that it works. It relieves symptoms, treats disease and makes you feel better to the point that you think you are better. Unfortunately, it has little to do with health. Mastering bypass surgery will not encourage us to live healthier lives which may lead to healthier hearts and thus prevent the very need for the surgery. Health is the real need. People need to know that true health comes from within. It consists of doing those things necessary to be healthy including eating right, getting proper rest, exercising, keeping the body from pollutants and maintaining a positive mental attitude. Most importantly, it includes visiting the chiropractor on a regular basis so that nerve interference at the spinal level is removed and the body’s nervous system is free to coordinate the function of every single organ tissue and cell in your body and allow your body to express optimum health.